The Renaissance Singers

Several years ago, I auditioned for a local choir that performs English choral music from the time of Henry VIII. (My jaw dropped when the first season of The Tudors featured Thomas Tallis, one of the most talented composers from that era, as a recurring character.) The audition included a little sight-reading—specifically Arvo Pärt’s Woman With the Alabaster Box. For measures on end, the score requires you to hold the same note, then switch to a new one and hold that. Sight reading isn’t my strong suit, but my first thought on seeing the Pärt, rather than some trilling Handel piece, was “Cake!” It wasn’t. Pärt, a living and active Estonian composer, uses the human voice in a style reminiscent of the Renaissance, but with a distinctly modern feel. The Renaissance Singers, conducted by countertenor Markdavin Obenza, are young enough and talented enough to pull off an entire evening of Part’s work, which requires incredible vocal stamina. No warbling sopranos here; just pure tones that build to unexpected and wrenching climaxes. But the human voice won’t be this evening’s only instrument; the program also includes the Berliner Messe, with Matthew Piel playing Trinity’s All Souls Memorial Organ. LAURA ONSTOT

Sat., June 13, 7:30 p.m., 2009

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